Anyone relishing his or her adulthood in the early ’80s has been well acquainted with the quintessential Holi song ‘Rang Barse Bhige Chunar Wali’ from the classic movie Silsila. After three decades, the age-old, romantic song cast with Amitabh Bachaan and Rekha is still the song to be played in every street when the festival of colour is upon us.
Every year, Bangladesh, like our neighboring country, celebrate Holi with great enthusiasm and zeal. The festivity is mostly celebrated in a grand nature at Shakhari Bazar, Old Town. Although Holi indeed is a celebration that stems from the Hindu religion, this festivity breaks communal religion boundaries and encourages people of all age and religion to participate in this grandiose festivity of colour.
Hinduism, a religion enriched in rich history celebrates Holi to signify the demise of winter and the arrival of spring, colour and festivity in the surrounding nature. In some cultures, this festivity stems a stronger meaning where holi bids goodbye to broken relationships and encourages taking a step towards forgiveness and fostering love towards renewed relations.
In our country, Holi is commonly known as ‘Dol Purnima’ or full moon. This lasts for an entire evening on the night of the Purnima and the following day. In Hinduism, the first evening is known as Holika Dahan and the following day has many names such as Rangwali Holi, Dhuleti, Dhulandi or Phagwah.
The night of full moon, (Holika Dahan) is concerned more towards the religious aspect of the festival where people gather to perform religious rituals in front of the bonfire, and pray that the wicked nature within every individuals is destroyed. The next day we celebrate the eve of holi festivity, which we call the Rangwali Holi.
Holi in Dhaka
As experienced in the streets of Shakhari Bazar, Holi calls for every soul to embrace a jovial spirit of the day where people smear each other with colour (abir) and drench each other with water guns and watercolor filled balloons. Holi celebrates the beginning of a new season blossoming with love and aims to break boundaries between every caste, hierarchy, race and religion. The thrill of playing with colors is seen in every yard, rooftops and alleys. It is often a very popular spot for photographers with the intention of capturing these priceless moments.
Over the years, Holi in our country has surpassed the religious barrier and become a festival of the masses.
Colloquially celebrating Holi is also known as ‘Rong Khela’ in our country. On this day, those celebrating also often indulge in a customary drink known as ‘bhang’ made from cannabis. Whilst it is slightly intoxicating, it is drank only a celebrating purpose and in order to make this even more memorable.
The history and the myth
Similar to all other festivities in Hinduism, the beginning of Holi is also commendable in history.
The tale of Hindu deity Sri Krishna and Sri Radha gave birth to this ceremonious day.
The festivity of colour, Holi, began since then and Krishna and Radha has been a regal couple throughout our legends.
Every year, Dhakeswari National Temple offers religious song and prayers to begin the Holi festival followed by rong khela to reminisce the abundance of love that fostered between Sri Krishna and Sri Radha and embrace the festivity of color with open arms.